A shocking fact is as follows: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost three out of every four adults in the United States do not obtain the level of recommended physical activity.
Even more alarming is the fact that a significant number of individuals don’t even get the minimum amount of physical activity required to get through the day. And as we become older, a growing number of us become less active. Sedentary behaviour is found in around 23 percent of persons in the age range of 18 to 44. It’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of 32 percent for people aged 65 and up.
You probably already know that being inactive for an extended period of time is bad for your bones and muscles, but you might not understand that it’s also bad for your heart and brain. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that you may develop dementia and heart disease, among other ailments, and can ultimately result in an untimely death.
But there is evidence from research to show that regular exercise can assist maintain the health of these organs and either delay or prevent their deterioration. What about if you work up a sweat on a consistent basis over a period of years? That’s excellent news.
According to Kevin Bohnsack, MD, a family care physician at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan, “You really need to think about methods to keep moving,” “Everything that enhances your overall activity can ward off that inactive lifestyle,” he adds, along with the cardiac and cognitive problems that can come with it. “Everything that raises your overall activity can ward off that sedentary lifestyle.”
How physical activity is beneficial to the heart
When you reach the middle years of your life, your heart begins to experience gradual weakening. Your arteries get more rigid, and its walls become thicker and less flexible as it progresses. This puts you at an increased risk for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, as well as other heart-related conditions, such as heart attack and heart failure. This danger is increased even further if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
When you exercise, your heart rate increases, which in turn increases blood flow, which in turn supplies your body with the oxygen it requires. When you exercise frequently, your heart grows stronger, and your blood vessels become more elastic, as a direct result of this. This makes it easier for you to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level and lowers the risk that you will develop a variety of cardiovascular diseases.
Aerobic exercise, often known as cardiovascular exercise, is the type of exercise that is most effective. Although research suggests that consistent, moderate or vigorous cardio exercise over a prolonged period of time may be most beneficial, it is important to remember that any form of physical activity is beneficial to the heart’s health. According to Dr. Bohnsack, it might be anything from jogging to bicycling to rowing. “It could be anything.” “Anything that gets your heart rate up,” the trainer said.
Your heart will benefit in other ways as well, including the fact that becoming in shape can help neutralise risk factors that are associated to heart disease. Regular physical activity has been linked to:
A decrease in the level of inflammation
An increase in HDL, often known as “good cholesterol,” and a reduction in LDL, sometimes known as “bad cholesterol.”
Keeping a healthy weight and warding off obesity are both important.
Even while there is always a need for additional research, there is mounting evidence that demonstrates physical activity can improve heart health in people of any age. For instance, for the purpose of one small study that was published in March 2018 in the journal Circulation, 28 middle-aged men participated in high-intensity exercise training for a total of two years. In comparison to a control group, the researchers discovered that the exercise decreased the participants’ cardiac stiffness and enhanced their bodies’ capacity for oxygen usage. Both of these changes may minimise the likelihood of developing heart failure.
In a different study that was published in the August 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers from the United Kingdom delivered heartrate and movement sensors to 1,600 participants who were between the ages of 60 and 64. After observing participants for five days, the researchers discovered that those who led more active lifestyles had lower levels of heart disease markers in their blood. Not bad at all, you baby boomers.
How physical activity is beneficial to the brain
Exercising your muscles and breaking a sweat on a regular basis can improve your brain’s health in a number of different ways, according to study. What’s healthy for your heart is generally excellent for your mind.
First, physical activity is linked to increased cognition, which includes greater memory, attention, and executive function. Executive function refers to things like being able to control your emotions and finish tasks. In addition to this, it can increase the speed at which you process and react to information, as well as your ability to draw from your previous knowledge and experiences.
Getting regular exercise is also associated to a slower age-related cognitive decline, which is the process through which we gradually lose our ability to think clearly, concentrate, and remember things. To put it another way, according to Bohnsack, “if you enjoy where you are, it’s a good idea to continue to exercise since it may at least help you keep your current cognitive performance.” [Citation needed]
Even while the judgement is still out on whether it alleviates symptoms, there is some evidence to suggest that regular exercise can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. For instance, a study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences in 2017 indicated that engaging in physical activity was connected to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
People who exercised on purpose in their spare time, as opposed to those who worked in physically demanding occupations, were shown to have the strongest correlation between the two factors. This indicates that the benefits to your mental health may rely not just on the amount of time you devote to an activity but also on the activity itself.
How exactly does exercise accomplish all of this? The scientific community is not one hundred percent certain. It is believed that regular exercise increases blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain, which in turn helps the brain function more effectively. It is the area of the brain that is responsible for learning new things and remembering them, and some studies suggests that it stops the hippocampus from shrinking. The belief among specialists is that it also promotes chemical activity in the brain, which may lead to improved cognitive function.
In conclusion, physical activity has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing additional illnesses associated with dementia, such as cardiovascular disease.
When are you able to get started?
Exercising regularly is beneficial for almost all of us, regardless of how old we are. According to Bohnsack, there is evidence to show that engaging in more rigorous exercise earlier in life is more advantageous. However, it is never too late to start because everyone can benefit from engaging in any form of movement or physical activity.
In addition to the benefits it provides for the cardiovascular system and the brain, regular exercise also:
- Increases both your energy level and your mood.
- Reduces the likelihood that you will develop other age-related conditions, such as arthritis.
- Helps you remain independent.
Aerobic activity should be performed at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes per week, and at a vigorous intensity for at least 75 minutes per week for adults, according to government exercise guidelines. It would be best if it were spaced out across a few different days. Walking, bicycling, swimming, bowling, gardening, and dancing are all excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise that are appropriate for older persons.
Your routine ought to also include some form of strength training, in addition to movements that focus on balance and flexibility. (Think yoga or tai chi.) They have the potential to keep you mobility and lessen the risk of injury, particularly from falls, which are frequently disastrous for the health of elderly people.
Ease yourself into your daily routine.
Before beginning any new treatment, older people should always make sure to consult with a healthcare professional (HCP), and this is especially important if they have a persistent ailment such as heart disease. Your healthcare provider will be able to advise you on a routine that is secure, efficient, and appropriate for your current level of fitness.
Also, keep in mind that any form of physical activity, even if it’s only a stroll, is preferable than none at all. According to Bohnsack, “taking steps during the day to conduct physical activities or movement can be just as helpful as if you joined a gym,” meaning that the benefits you reap will be comparable. To get started, he recommends making small adjustments, such as performing squats while at work or parking further away from your office so you may log a few additional steps.